Real Life

Real life: I count myself lucky to call Elton John a friend

I’m with the Rocketman! Elton John came to my party.

By As told to Take 5

Lorayne Tennet, 81, Waikato, NZ shares how she became mates with the musical legend:

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as a familiar voice rang out through the stadium.
"This song is dedicated to Lorayne," Elton John called to the crowd.
Dynamic piano chords echoed through the arena.
"But it's something about the way you look tonight," he crooned into the mic.
At 32, I was a record label manager looking after the megastar during his first New Zealand tour, and we'd become good friends.
My passion for music grew from a young age, fuelled by my dad, an Irish tenor, who'd always had tunes filling the house.
All my dreams came true when I was offered a job at PolyGram Records, where I spent my days assessing records and calling the shots on how many would be printed in NZ.
Elton and me in 1971, he was a bona fide star. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
When my manager told me I'd be touring with Elton John, I was thrilled! He'd already had hits with Tiny Dancer and Your Song.
Pulling into Auckland Airport in a limo, excitement overtook my nerves.
My first impression was how nice Elton was – and cheeky!
I toured with him on three other occasions.
One night, he hopped on the piano at the hotel we were staying at.
"Come on, we'll sing together," he called to me.
We reunited in 2016. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Armed with liquid courage, I walked over, but when I started singing, he looked at me in jovial horror.
"What key do you sing in?!" he quipped.
When the tour finished, I was sad to see Elton go.
But my career thrived for 37 years after that. I worked with stars such as Sammy Davis Jr, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Cilla Black, Gene Pitney and The Eagles. But Elton always had a special place in my heart.
When I retired, there was a party at the office and Elton made an appearance in person!
He gave me a card which read: Thank you for everything you've done for me, and you've done a lot. Every happiness and success. Elton.
I'm so happy to call Elton my friend. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
It melted my heart.
I've had the pleasure of seeing the Rocketman perform 11 times, and when I heard he'd be in Napier during his final tour, I knew I had to go.
Elton even organised backstage passes for me.
"It's so nice to see you again," he grinned, giving me a hug.
He's a name the whole world knows, but I'm lucky enough to call him a friend.

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